Community Memories from Norm Rayner

Unlike many other early citizens of Thompson, Norm Rayner did not come seeking employment in the mine, but rather came as a substitute postmaster in 1959. He lived and worked at the campsite on INCO grounds for a short while then became a zone postmaster, traveling to and supervising post offices in Northern Manitoba, Keewatin and part of the Northwest Territories. The post office at the INCO site was a very busy place in '59. Everything was extremely hectic. Lineups were so long, it was hard to close the doors at night. There were no banks at first, and men who wanted to send money home depended on postal money orders. After several years as a zone postmaster, Norm returned to Thompson with his family in 1967.

During his early years here many steps were taken to relieve the pressure on the main post office. Norm initiated the establishment of four sub-post offices and began mail carrier services, necessitating the hiring of more staff. Turnover of employees was a problem. Pay was not as generous as at INCO, but was equal to what other employees in Canada were getting. Women were paid the same as men for the same type of work. There was equal opportunity in hiring. They all had to go through the same selection process.

Norm recalled a couple of comical incidents related to his post office days. One when a man got his finger stuck in a stamp vending machine in an attempt to retrieve his quarter. Norm describes another time when someone cut the rope on the flagpole at the post office. The caretaker got up on the roof of the post office and was casting a fishing line trying to catch the flag and pull it in. He drew quite an audience and there were people taking pictures.

Throughout his years here, Norm was quite involved in the community.  He helped coach junior baseball, volunteered at the Heritage North Museum and was a member of the Rotary Club.

Having come here from Flin Flon, Norm wasn't bothered by isolation or the more severe climate.  He feels that there are many advantages to living in Thompson.

Norm says, "Traffic is no problem.  You can go anywhere in 10 to 15 minutes.  The city provides a lot of services that other towns don't have such as good sidewalks and springtime washing down of the streets, and of course free water.” (Ed. note: The 50 year agreement that provided water services has since expired.)

Norm remembers the Queen's visit in 1970.  Norm had delivered her mail personally.  She was in a private car at the railway station and he had to deliver it to one of her attendants.

Norm has retired in Thompson in his home that he purchased in '67 and sees no reason for moving elsewhere.  His life has had its ups and downs with the deaths of his wife and son.  His daughters live in Calgary and Timmons and that is usually the extent of his travels.

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